12 posts categorized "Bioinformatics"


USciences Prez, Students and Faculty Attended Life Sciences Future in Philly

PABioLSF14_-138University of the Sciences President Dr. Helen-Giles Gee, as well as students and faculty from USciences, joined hundreds of life sciences leaders and innovators during the Life Sciences Future Conference on Oct. 13-14 in Philadelphia.

Life Sciences Future was a two-day event designed by Pennsylvania Bio to reflect the rapidly-evolving landscape in healthcare - which includes biopharma, medical device and diagnostics, healthcare IT, contract research organizations, medical research institutions, and the investment community.

The first day of the event kicked off with Life Sciences Future Symposium: Partnerships in Science, which was designed for an exclusive audience of academic researchers, such as USciences students and faculty, to explore best practices for engaging business development representatives at large companies as well as the next steps in developing their technologies. The second day of the conference was jam-packed with speakers, topics and features all related to advancing science and healthcare industries.

Dr. Giles-Gee and students had the opportunity to meet and speak with Michael Sofia, inventor of Sofosbuvir – known by the brand name Sovaldi, a hepatitis C therapy drug approved by the FDA last December.

“The sessions were outstanding and much appreciated by the faculty and students who attended," Dr. Giles-Gee.


Nearly 100 Philly Middle Schoolers Explore STEM Careers at USciences

IMG_1861As part of an ongoing commitment to Philadelphia schools and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, University of the Sciences hosted its first Career Day for Middle School Students on May 9.

Held in conjunction with state Rep. James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia), University City Science Center, and three local middle schools, a half-day program focusing on STEM careers was developed by USciences faculty and staff for nearly 100 local students from Samuel B. Huey School, Jubilee School, and The City School.

University president Helen Giles-Gee, PhD, kicked off the day with welcome remarks, which included her hope and expectation that one day the young students would attend USciences. The fifth-graders were also given a tour of USciences’ campus by student ambassadors, and participated in a science expo held by students and faculty from chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, pharmacy, and pharmacology/toxicology programs.

IMG_1829They had the opportunity to participate in hands-on demonstrations and experiments highlighting the STEM academic disciplines, and then experienced lunch in a college dining hall. The day wrapped up with a presentation on career interest and exploration.

Click here to see all photos from the day.

Participating staff and faculty, included: Kimberly Bryant, director of career services; Kevin Wolbach, interim associate dean of Misher College of Arts and Sciences; Catherine Bentzley, PhD, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Grace Farber, PhD, assistant professor of biology; Carl Walasek, statistics instructor; Scott Greene, director of the Student Excellence and Professional Preparation programs; Mary Kate McGinty, director of government and community affairs; and Danielle Stollak, program manager of University City Science Center's STEAM Initiatives.


VIDEO: 6abc Highlights Students, Faculty at USciences Research Day

6abc showcased the diversity and growth of research pursuits at University of the Sciences during its 12th Annual Research Day and 27th Annual John C. Krantz, Jr., Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, April 10. Research Day recognizes and highlights the research efforts of faculty, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, to encourage and promote communication and collaboration among researchers.
USciences distinguishes itself by offering undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research early in their academic careers. The diverse research activity that was on display spanned several aspects of the University’s scholarly pursuits, including:
  • Determining occupational therapists’ role in working with pediatric cancer patients
  • Discovering the personality traits that cause adolescents to kill
  • Using yoga to improve quality of life for patients with anorexia nervosa
  • Identifying predictors of successful post-secondary transitions for autistic students


Alumni Seminar Series features Dr. Richard C. Remsing C’08

RemsingThe Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry brings prominent graduates back to their alma mater through its Alumni Seminar Series. On Feb. 17, alumnus Richard C. Remsing C'08, PhD, joined USciences for an accepted students “Chemistry Day.” He engaged prospective scholars with an active panel discussion and lectured for current students.

 “I hope to join a university faculty, begin teaching, and continue research,” Dr. Remsing said on his future goals. “I want to provoke passion in students about the incredible field of chemistry.”

After graduating from USciences in 2008, Dr. Remsing earned a doctorate degree in chemical physics from the University of Maryland. He currently holds a postdoctoral research position at University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering.

As an undergraduate commuter, Dr. Remsing had to fill a significant amount of time between classes with on-campus activities. Research fit this schedule nicely, and he published eight papers before completing his bachelors degree.

The team Dr. Remsing worked with during those years was the first to demonstrate an ecological method of extracting cellulose from wood – in other words: eco-friendly paper pulp. Dr. Remsing then moved from studying ionic liquids and other aspects of physical chemistry to the field of theoretical physics.

Today, he is a theorist: using computer systems to explain the principles governing molecular interactions and building models describing these findings.

“Statistical Mechanics was my favorite class at USciences,” said Dr. Remsing. “It was a preview of what I do now with computer simulation, and introduced me to a different type of research that I continue to use.”


The Biggest Mistakes Transfer Students Make

Viggiani_aimeeChoosing which college to attend is a huge decision for students. Whether they’ve earned their associate’s degrees from community colleges and ready to move on to earn their bachelor’s degrees, or currently enrolled in four-year schools that aren’t the right fit, one-third of all students transfer at least once before earning a degree.

Aimee Viggiani, associate director of transfer admissions, was recently featured in two articles which provide helpful tips for transfer students. She said, "All too often, students wait until too late in their college careers to ask why a certain class didn't transfer. Even if you don't need the credit right away, you may need it in the future. So ask transfer credit questions as soon as possible."


USciences' Dr. Rondalyn Whitney Appointed to Telemedicine Task Force’s Clinical Advisory Group

By Rondalyn V. Whitney, PhD, OT/L, interim director of the occupational therapy doctoral program at USciences.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Telemedicine Task Force’s (TTF) Clinical Advisory Group (CAG) in Maryland and learn more about the current guiding principles for the group. The CAG was established to identify ways the expansion of telemedicine would be valuable and feasible as a mechanism to increase access to care primarily for those in rural settings throughout Maryland.

As you may know, there are multiple intersections between technology and the provision of occupational therapy. In the OT profession, our role falls under the overarching construct of telehealth – using online tools to provide clinical care at a distance. In comparison, telemedicine – which is more physician driven – is one service model.

The body of work generated by Jana Carson, Tammy Richmond, and other OT practitioners and scholars have created a collection of scholarship to that solidly establishes the role of OT in telehealth practice.This information became invaluable when I was asked to attend Telemedicine Task Force’s Clinical Advisory Group, and advocate for the role of OT in the evolving legislative conversation of how telemedicine will be regulated in the state.

Maryland’s Senate Bill 776 charges the task force to identify opportunities for to improve health status for its underserved populations, assess barriers and support to telehealth, identify strategies for deployment, and provide response as requested by Maryland Health Care Commission. There are three advisory groups attached: clinical, finance and business model, and technology solutions and standards. The state's Senate Bill 781 requires health insurers and managed care organizations to deliver coverage for healthcare services provided appropriately using telemedicine technology. Under this legislation, coverage cannot be denied because services were provided through telemedicine rather than in-person.

The first meeting of the CAG established overarching guiding principles and engaged in robust debate regarding the prioritization of requirements of Senate Bill 776 as they related to clinical practice. One major outcome of the discussion was the change in terminology from “telemedicine” to “telehealth” so the profession of OT would be legal recognized as a pivotal service provider if the ultimate goal is to improve public health while maintaining affordable care. The import of this seemingly simple change in language should not be overlooked for our profession and the public we serve. Outcome studies demonstrate the improved health and function of clients who receive OT. Another important change was the conversion of “patient” to “public” therefore opening telehealth services for practice settings beyond hospital based care.

Finally, the CAG prioritized the examination of reciprocity of state licensure. It was a privilege to be at this meeting and I am very excited to have had the opportunity to represent MOTA and advance the important role of OT in telehealth. I will be attending future meetings and look forward to reporting back to the profession additional information as this conversation evolves. For more information contact the Maryland Health Care Commission at mhccdhmh.maryland.gov.


Drug Information Association Provides Great Opportunity for USciences Students

University of the Sciences students benefitted from the University’s relationship with the Drug Information Association (DIA) http://www.diahome.org/ this past year. With support from Mayes College, a DIA student chapter of the Horsham-based group that services professionals in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, and related fields, was formed. It marks the first formerly recognized student group by the DIA. Mayes Associate Professor Dr. Danny Benau and PCP Assistant Professor Leonilla Blustein are co-advisors for the group.

In addition, University students were able to attend the DIA 2012 Annual Meeting from June 24-28 in Philadelphia that also included a Mayes College sponsored alumni reception. The following are two students’ reflection of attending the DIA conference:

DIA 2012 Annual Meeting: Collaborate to Innovate
By: Kyle Flannery

A year ago, I was unaware that The Drug Information Association existed. Last fall, I was surprised to learn not only that DIA was a professional organization, but that they were requesting to form a student chapter on our very own campus. Furthermore, I was presented with an active leadership role as a vice president within the organization. It took a tremendous amount of work to establish ourselves on campus, but I believe that the benefits have been truly worthwhile. Attendance at the DIA Annual Conference has been the most noteworthy benefit of student membership to date.

At first, I was apprehensive about attending the DIA Annual Meeting. Not only was there a large price tag, but attending would mean missing four days of work in the summer. I was also unsure that I would be able to take anything away from the meeting. ‘Who would really want to network with a student?’ I thought. I was scared that I would spend the whole conference going to meetings that were above my scope of understanding and that I would not make any meaningful connections.

A great aspect of DIA’s Annual Meeting was the way they organized the seminars and meetings. In the “Conference Guide” the seminars were clearly grouped into “tracks.” The tracks each represented a different topic within biomedical information. Furthermore, the individual meetings were given a rating of difficulty similar to a ski resort. Three categories (Circle, Square, and Diamond) separated the meetings according to how difficult they were to understand. This system of organization ensured that you attended meetings that were both interesting and also tailored to coincide with your individual knowledge level within that particular topic.

The DIA Annual Meeting allowed for networking experiences which were productive and enjoyable. Attendees were willing to have conversations with strangers and meet new people; this made the event fun. I came home with a huge stack of business cards. Connections can be very important when job searching, and I definitely may have met a future employer. In addition to professional connections, I also got to ask personal questions and hear about firsthand experiences of working in the pharmaceutical sector. You can learn a lot about a career in class but speaking to people actually involved in the profession provides a much more thorough understanding of that field.

I came away from the DIA Annual meeting feeling refreshed and invigorated. I attended useful seminars; I met many students and professionals with common interests; and I got to see things that my classmates will not be exposed to until they graduate. I’m looking forward to attending this conference again in the future and I will be actively advocating that my peers join me.

Reflective Statement: DIA 2012 Annual Meeting
By Dhaval Patel

There is no shortage when it comes to professional organizations on our campus. This past fall semester, my colleagues and I, along with several faculty members, collaborated to establish a student chapter of the Drug Information Association at University of the Sciences. This organization sets itself apart from the others on our campus in that the focus is to provide students and professionals with access to information that can help them advance their careers, skills, and innovation in pharmaceutics, biotechnology, medical devices, and related fields. I am currently a sixth-year pharmacy student and although our chapter of DIA was established late in regards to my time here at University of the Sciences, I can safely say that I have seen a large benefit to being a part of this organization.

This summer, I had the opportunity to attend the DIA 2012 Annual Meeting which was held right here in Philadelphia. Over the course of four days, I had the opportunity to attend several seminars and sessions and interact with individuals across many different fields. On the first day, I attended a student forum where we learned about and discussed different aspects of applying for jobs, including making a resume. As many students have, I have sat through resume writing workshops on more than one occasion. This workshop, however, was different since it was run by individuals who are involved in the hiring process within the pharmaceutical industry. One tip that I had never previously heard was creating a summary sheet to supplement your resume, listing the companies you have worked for and the therapeutic categories you have worked with.

The first and foremost reason I decided to attend DIA 2012 was for the networking opportunity. Every day that I attended the meeting, I spoke with individuals from different fields within the industry. Everyone was so sociable and interested in hearing about who you are and why you were attending the meeting. Networking is a must when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry. Whether it is through school, internships, or professional meetings, making connections will be very beneficial when you are applying for jobs, fellowships or even looking for an out-of-network rotation during your sixth year if you are a pharmacy student.

DIA 2012 was overall a great opportunity. I attended forums and seminars that I would not have otherwise been exposed to and was able to meet many other students and professionals along the way. I am glad I was offered the opportunity to attend this meeting locally and am looking forward to attending the meeting next year in Boston. I would strongly encourage anyone interested in entering the pharmaceutical industry to attend these meetings for a strong entryway to both learning and networking opportunities. 


Bioinformaticians Have a Leg Up on Data Issue, Standards Needed

Scientists have a problem: there is just too much data being created and not enough structure in dealing with it. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the issue at hand in a Feb. 10, 2011, article titled, “Dumped On by Data: Scientists Say a Deluge Is Drowning Research” by Josh Fischman. The article points the finger at “the lack of data libraries, insufficient support from federal research agencies, and the lack of academic credit for sharing data sets.”

Associate Professor Dr. Randy Zauhar, who is the Graduate Program Director for Bioinformatics at University of the Sciences, understands the issue first hand:

"In general, Bioinformatics has done a better job of data standardization than other disciplines. There are several reasons for that - first it included computer scientists at the beginning, and they are much better than biologists (or even physicists) in keeping raw data systematized. (Biologists did a great job with taxonomy, but that developed a long time ago, and it was in Greek and Latin, not binary!) Second, the raw data has a simple format (just text strings). 

"That said, Bioinformaticians struggle today in dealing with the sheer volume of data generated by contemporary sequencing methods. A more pressing problem in my view is moving away from the raw data (where standardization is easy) and into the world of annotation, where you attach meaning to the raw data. Here there is much less uniformity, and that has prompted interest in development of ontologies (essentially controlled vocabularies). If standard ontologies can be agreed on, there may be some hope to better systematizing ALL the information being generated. However, given that one of our major resources, NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) has actually become LESS friendly to the end user over the years, I do not feel very optimistic."


Ethics in Computing

Ethics in Computing. During a class discussion in our Information Technology (CS-250) course at The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia we were examining the ethics of computing. History has shown us that the use of technology can be for good or for bad intentions. For example, nuclear technology provides us with medical therapies and clean energy but has also been used as a weapon of war. The automobile has provided society with an easily accessible travel vehicle but also results in many deaths each year and degrades the environment. Computers and the Internet have had profound impacts on society.  Many positive changes to business, entertainment, and social networking have been due to computer technology.  But there are also negative aspects to the computer revolution. As a professional computer scientist or computer engineer, you should help advance the field of study by adhering to a set of ethical standards that illustrate the positive aspects of modern computer technology.  Computer scientists need to be at the forefront of identifying unethical uses of computer technology. We came up with the following list of intentional unethical uses of computers. Can you identify any others?

1. Hacking

2. Spam

3. Phishing

4. Pirating 

5. Stealing Data

6. Identity Theft

7. Cyber Bullying

8. Spreading Viruses

9. Cyber Snooping

10. Online Gambling

11. Online Illegal Solicitation

12. Cyber Squatting 


Dr. Jim Pierce Talks Electronic Medical Records with KYW Radio

There is more and more discussion about the prospect of electronic medical records becoming reality here in the US. Dr. James Pierce, chair of the bioinformatics and computer science department at the University of the Sciences, talks about some of the challenges of making this a reality. Read the full story by KYW’s Matt Leon at KYW Newsradio.

Listne to a full podcast of the interview: http://www.kyw1060.com/topic/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=3700747

The Department of Health Policy and Public Health at the University’s Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy is proud to present a unique forum for policy dialogue on the Future of Health Information Technology.

Thursday, May 14, 2009, from 5-7 p.m.
Reception to follow in the McNeil STC Atrium

Learn more: http://www.usp.edu/symposium/

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